Horne relishes record-setting day in 1998

Slugger achieved only home run cycle in baseball history

Notebook

Minor Leagues

July 17, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

From the dawn, Tyrone Horne felt nasty vibrations.

San Antonio was pitching one of its four left-handed starters against his Arkansas Travelers on getaway night in the steamy Texas heat.

"The whole day I felt kind of tired and didn't eat any food," remembered the left-handed hitting Horne of the hours before his history-making achievement in 1998. "I told my roommate I didn't know if I wanted to play, but when I got to the park I saw my name in the lineup batting third. So, I didn't tell Hammer [manager Chris Maloney] that I wanted a day off."

The well-traveled Horne, then playing in the St. Louis Cardinals chain, had "the worst batting practice I had all season. I said to myself, `Today is going to be a bad day for me.' "

After what transpired next, it was obviously darkest before Horne's real dawn.

In his first at-bat, Horne crashed a two-run homer to left field. In his second, a grand slam to left. In his third, he hit the inning's first pitch over the right-field fence. In his fourth, a three-run homer to left center. He had done something no one had ever managed at any level in the history of professional baseball: the home run cycle.

"The whole time it happened, I didn't know what I had done," said the outfielder currently playing for the Aberdeen Arsenal. "The only one I tried for was the third one because Mike Hardge told me I had never hit three homers in a game. After the fourth one, the crowd jumped up and gave me a lot of applause. They wanted a curtain call."

Horne, now 29, had 10 RBIs in the game that sent his bat (a Hank Aaron model) and hat to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Simply to prove his mortality, he struck out on a forkball in his fifth at-bat while trying to hit a home run, of course.

"That is the most cherished accomplishment I could ever have," said Horne, who grew up in Troy, N.C., a small community near Greensboro. "I can take my kids to the Hall of Fame and show them that it had never been done before me."

However, the deed did not lead to bigger things despite his victory in the All-Star Game home-run hitting contest the next night at Little Rock. Horne did get a callup to Triple-A Memphis after batting .312 and amassing 37 homers and 139 RBIs for Arkansas and winning the Texas League MVP Award.

But after just 11 Triple-A at-bats, he took the free agency route a month later and wound up with the Reading Phillies and his seventh organization last season. He has never played in the majors.

"I felt like I was blessed that whole season [1998], but it didn't change me at all," said Horne. "I'm at ease with baseball right now. I think I've done a lot in my career and I may get a callup yet. But I'm not going to worry about it any more. I'm doing something I love."

Rochester

Red Wings pitchers fared well in the Triple-A All-Star Game at Frontier Field with Josh Towers throwing a perfect inning as the International League starter and Javier de la Hoya earning IL MVP honors for two scoreless innings. The Pacific Coast League won the game, 8-2, thanks in part to five IL errors. The game drew 12,810, fifth largest in its history ... Rochester started the second half with its ninth straight defeat on the road, where its record was 13-30 entering the weekend. The team is 2-12 since reaching .500 June 28 ... Signed was ex-Philadelphia Phillie third baseman Dave Hollins, who played briefly in the league with Durham this season before being released ... Wady Almonte joined the disabled list due to a strained right calf ... Rick Short, who missed the Eastern League All-Star Game because of his promotion, is struggling at the plate.

Bowie

Jay Spurgeon continues to be hot after being named the Eastern League pitcher of the week. Spurgeon hurled seven scoreless innings in the team's first game after the All-Star break, but he did not get a decision when the bullpen faltered in a 2-0 loss. Only three runners have reached scoring position against Spurgen in his last 16 innings ... Joe DePastino is back on the active list after being rushed into the All-Star Game when Akron's Armando Romero didn't show because of an injury. DePastino was at the Annapolis Mall when he was summoned to catch the final three innings for the American League affiliates.

Frederick

The Keys have slipped since winning the first-half title in the Carolina League's Northern Division, partly due to promotions of key personnel. Pitching has been a problem lately after the losses of Spurgeon and Aaron Rakers. The team ERA has fallen to sixth in the league at 4.01 ... Activated was shortstop Brian Roberts, who had only 14 at-bats before going on the disabled list ... Papy Ndungidi did not have an official at-bat in the Futures Game, walking twice ... Catcher Mike Lopez Cao returned from Bowie ... Richard Paz is fourth in the league batting race and first in on-base percentage.

Delmarva

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